Artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles joined the New York Department of Sanitation in 1977 as an artist in residence. In this self-appointed, unpaid position, she has organized snowplow ballets and personally thanked 8,500 workers for “keeping New York alive.” Five years before she joined the DOS, she had done the performance Washing/Tracks/Maintenance at Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. She would mop, scrub or dust the most trafficked areas while the museum was open. This seemed important at a time — the late 1960s into the '70s — when development and revolution were so widely discussed, because, as Ukeles wrote in her Maintenance Manifesto, “After the revolution, who's going to pick up the garbage?” Black-and-white images of her 1973 performance are in “The Assistants” at David Kordansky, a show about art that acts as custodian or helper. 3143 S. La Cienega Blvd.; through Feb. 23. (310) 558-3030,

Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Jan. 18. Continues through Feb. 23, 2013

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